The Tiger Throne by Preetha Rajah Kannan Review

Someone in a WhatsApp group frantically asked for a PDF version of the book Ponniyin Selvan, authored by Kalki, and that’s how I came to know about this classic Tamil literature. Most likely, the person wanted to read the epic novel before the release of the movie, which was directed by Mani Ratnam and released last year. 

The Tiger Throne by Preetha Rajah Kannan is a retelling of Ponniyin Selvan that originally ran in five volumes. Preetha condensed the story into one book, which still clocks in at over 700 pages. Despite its size, I was able to finish it within five days, indicating that the book was engaging and kept my interest. Even when I wasn’t reading, I found myself thinking about the story.

Ponniyin Selvan by Kalki is a historical novel about Raja Raja Chola, a powerful Tamil king of the Chola dynasty who ruled over southern India. The book portrays Raja Raja’s early life as Arulmozli and the events leading up to his coronation. Since I don’t have all the information about the original epic novel or Preetha Rajah Kannan’s creative liberties, it’s difficult to say how much she deviated from the original in her retelling, The Tiger Throne. Therefore, I will focus on The Tiger Throne without making comparisons to the original.

The Tiger Throne by Preetha Rajah Kannan begins with turmoil in the Chola kingdom over the issue of succession. Many chieftains are scheming and plotting to determine who will succeed the current Chola ruler, Sundara Chola. The story is told through the eyes of the protagonist, Vandhiya Devan. Vandhiya is a mighty and witty warrior who is also the best friend of the crown prince, Aditya Karikalan. 

As the story unfolds, we see Vandhiya Devan navigate the treacherous political landscape of the Chola kingdom. He is a clever and resourceful warrior who is able to escape tight spots and display his fighting and life-saving skills. Despite his prowess in battle, Vandhiya also has his own flaws and weaknesses, such as a fear of water, poor swimming skills and tends to act impulsively without thinking through the consequences of his actions. This rashness adds an element of unpredictability and excitement to the story, as it leads Vandhiya to problems or conflicts and those around him.  Despite these shortcomings, the author has crafted Vandhiya’s character in a way that makes him likable and relatable. The princess Kundavai, sister of Aditya Karikalan and Arulmozli, is also drawn to Vandhiya’s moral values of friendship and loyalty.

The Tiger Throne is primarily about the exploits of Vandhiya Devan and the political challenges within the Chola dynasty. While other characters are introduced and play important roles, the story is told primarily from Vandhiya Devan’s perspective. Each character has their own distinct story and purpose, and together they drive the narrative forward.

I would like to highlight the strong and respectful portrayal of women characters in this historical fiction. They are not depicted as weak or needing constant protection or instruction, and are not treated as objects for satisfaction or revenge. This stands in contrast to the common portrayal of women in many historical fictions.

The story features several love triangles and romantic interests, which may tempt the reader to try to predict who will end up with whom. However, the author has managed to maintain a surprising balance and focus on the main storyline, ensuring that the love stories do not overshadow the main plot. This allows the reader to remain focused on the main story without getting bogged down in the love interests.

The book is full of drama, rescue scenes, and espionage, all shrouded in mystery. The mysteries are layered like the peels of an onion, with one mystery leading to another. It adds a sense of complexity and depth to the story. The author sheds light on some of the mysteries, but even after reading the entire book, some of the mysteries remain unsolved. I didn’t like the way the author left the mystery unsolved, refused to give proper answers to questions and left things unexplained. This lack of resolution may have been intentional, as it allows readers to imagine and come to their own conclusions.

I would recommend The Tiger Throne by Preetha Rajah Kannan for its exciting adventure and spy elements, as well as its well-developed characters. The book offers a thrilling and engaging reading experience, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged. Overall, it is a highly entertaining and enjoyable read.

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